Zanu-PF secretary for the Commissariat Cde Saviour Kasukuwere has blocked former Zvishavane legislator Cde Pearson Meeting Mbalekwa from representing the revolutionary party in the Chiwundura National Assembly by-election slated for July 15, saying he had contested the primaries without the blessing of the party. Cde Mbalekwa, on Monday, beat 20 other aspirants in the race to represent Zanu-PF in the by-election, but decided to be diplomatic, yesterday saying he was withdrawing his candidature for personal family reasons.
The Chiwundura seat fell vacant following the death of Cde Kizito Chivamba last month.
Cde Mbalekwa had garnered 1 511 votes, while Cdes Brown Ndlovu and Celton Charamba polled 1 196 and 1 161 votes, respectively.
Cde Ndlovu will now represent Zanu-PF following the withdrawal of Cde Mbalekwa.
Said Cde Mbalekwa: “I would like to announce that I have voluntarily withdrawn from participating in the Chiwundura Constituency by-elections. This is my sole decision because my child who is abroad is not feeling well and I felt my attention will be divided and I won’t cope with the immense pressure of elections.
“I will assist in the best way I could to ensure the candidate who will represent the party wins.”
But Cde Kasukuwere told The People’s Voice newspaper while in Mexico where he is attending the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction Conference together with President Mugabe on Monday that Zanu-PF would not recognise Cde Mbalekwa.
“The party received names from the contestants who were prepared to stand in the Midlands Province,” he said.
“Out of the 21 candidates, 20 were approved by the party and one Cde Mbalekwa’s application was turned down for various reasons.
“That is the position of the party, so, whoever to have emerged at the top outside the candidature of Cde Mbalekwa will stand for the party.
“We advised the province of Midlands this morning (on Monday) and so we will not entertain the defiance to party decisions and directive given to province.
“The province wrote to the party and was given appropriate response after thoroughly analysing all the candidates. I personally also advised Cde Omega Hungwe (deputy national commissar) who was leading the party process in Midlands that Cde Mbalekwa was disqualified. Whoever in Midlands tried to undermine that decision did so at their own peril.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared the seat vacant last week and Zanu-PF last Friday invited interested candidates to submit their CVs.
President Mugabe has since declared July 15 as the date for the by-election.
Cde Kasukuwere said the indiscipline in the party had reached alarming levels and all Zanu-PF cadres should respect the dictates of the revolutionary party.
“This is indiscipline and this level of indiscipline will not be tolerated and we just have to put our foot down and say as a party, we are one party that has no discord,” he said.
“If the leadership looks at the candidates and feels they are not satisfied with some of the cadres who would have submitted their names that decision is communicated to the province and in this case the province was communicated to and it must stick with that decision and we expect that the cadre that will represent the party is not Mbalekwa.
“Any other candidate from the list approved by the party will stand.”
Cde Mbalekwa, according to his CV, was expelled from the party after the Tsholotsho declaration, but was readmitted.
He is also the former Chief Security Advisor to MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zanu-PF Midlands provincial spokesperson, Cde Cornelius Mupereri, said the party accepted Cde Mbalekwa’s withdrawal and had chosen Cde Ndlovu by virtue of being the first runner up to represent the party in the by-elections.
“As Zanu-PF, we humbly accept Cde Mbalekwa’s withdrawal,” he said. “We would have loved to have him as the party candidate, but his personal commitment coincided with the election campaigns.
“We have a standing resolution that if a winner in any election steps aside, the first runner up will take up the position. Therefore, Cde Ndlovu will represent the party in the by-elections.”
Cde Hungwe had announced the results at the primaries at the command centre in Gweru on Monday night.
“As the National Deputy Political Commissar, I, therefore, declare Cde Pearson Mbalekwa who polled 1 511 votes as the duly elected party candidate for Chiwundura Constituency primary elections,” she said.
“I wish to thank PCC members form Midlands who conducted the elections at every polling station. Equally, I would like to thank all members of the commissariat department for a job well done.”
Cde Hungwe added: “If you are not happy with this candidate you have 24hours to write to the national commissariat. I don’t know any of these candidates. Go home if you are not happy and complain using the party procedures.”
The nomination court will sit at Gweru magistrates’ court on Friday to accept candidates for the by-election.